The first time Stephen went to sleep in his brand new bed, in the house he had just taken out a mortgage on, in the same neighborhood as his best friend and on the same block as his boyfriend...he woke up at three AM in a cold sweat, and with a bad case of the shakes.
Right. Just because he'd gotten away from the worst of his problems didn't mean everything was going to be easy.
He texted Jon, but Jon wasn't up. He took a look at Tumblr, only to find some of the Shout*For blogs he followed had taken the plunge into long photo posts dedicated to "proving Stimmy" by comparing "how Jimmy smiles around Stephen" with "how Jimmy smiles around Tina." Along with admonishing their followers that "Jonphen can't be real" because "Jon is a good guy who would never take Stephen away from Jimmy."
Stephen pressed the unfollow button a few times, spent a while in the "colbewart" tag spitefully liking and reblogging everything he could find, then left the site entirely to go browse interior design retailers.
He still had a dozen rooms here to decorate, after all. Starting with the den...which he was already planning to do in loud flashy colors, exactly the opposite of Papa's dark wood and serious old-fashioned leather. This beautiful bright-blue C-shaped desk seemed like a good start.
decided me & @LisaMunnOfficial were better off as friends. no hate, ok fans? she's still a princess, just not *my* one true princess.
Premiere of #ThePrincessAndThePopStar 2NITE! So excited, #Munnsters! Come see me & awesome BF @Shout4StevieC on the big screen!
looks like @LisaMunnOfficial on twitter didn't get the memo, but trust me, @LisaMunnOfficial irl knows.
To everyone who's asked: no, Tina & I are not "next."
"To everyone who's asked: no, Tina & I are not "next.""
—@Shout4JimmyFals, desperately lying through his teeth now that his bf is 1000% done with the bearding game
#stimmy is real #jimmy fallon #just come out already
8,342 notes | X ↠ ♥
Downtown, premiere night.
She got to show off on the red carpet, hang out with Stephen with zero pressure hanging over her head, and gleefully explain to reporters that she was only a tiny bit heartbroken, honest. Her mother (in attendance, and staying mellow since they were in public) actually told her that she looked great, before asking when she was going to start working on another movie. And when the house lights dropped and a long shot of the L.A. coast lit up the screen...well, it was still kind of a ridiculous movie, but her own performance? That, she was happy with.
Finally, when the lights came up and the applause died away...she got to leave. No having to socialize, no dealing with large groups of frequently-important people while sober; she just said goodbye to her friends, snuck out the back with Lonny along to be chaperone/bodyguard, and settled into the car with music on her headphones and Kristen on the line.
<3 Olivia <3
houston, we have liftoff
Kristen ヽ( ≧ω≦)ﾉ
Congrats! How was the movie?
<3 Olivia <3
a masterpiece of modern cinema, obvs
<3 Olivia <3
no srsly Im pretty sure Jon was sniffling during Stephen's 1st big emotional love-confession scene
<3 Olivia <3
(the one where hes confessin 2 the wrong 1 of my characters, oops)
Kristen ヽ( ≧ω≦)ﾉ
That's really cute!
Kristen ヽ( ≧ω≦)ﾉ
And we're never going to let him live it down, right?
<3 Olivia <3
as long as we can mock him w/o it soundin like an insult 2 Stephens acting
<3 Olivia <3
he emoted v v strongly during that scene dont u know
Kristen ヽ( ≧ω≦)ﾉ
I can imagine :)
<3 Olivia <3
hey speaking of emotional things
<3 Olivia <3
do u want 2 come over 4 a pre-xmas-type dinner w/ my family?
Kristen ヽ( ≧ω≦)ﾉ
Kristen ヽ( ≧ω≦)ﾉ
Wait, just dinner, dinner?
Kristen ヽ( ≧ω≦)ﾉ
Or "by the way, just so you know, Schaalmunn is canon" dinner?
<3 Olivia <3
(a) sort of a prelude to the "btw..." dinner? I dont want 2 give it up 2 soon b4 the tour, in case we get deprived of essential makeout time
<3 Olivia <3
(b) does that have 2 b our smushname? it sounds like a fish.
Kristen ヽ( ≧ω≦)ﾉ
It's already our official smushname on Tumblr, as used by all two people who ship us.
Kristen ヽ( ≧ω≦)ﾉ
Besides, Stimmy sounds like a cutesy name for a sex toy, so I say we come out ahead.
Later in December.
So saying, he ran back upstairs to put on a shirt.
True to his word, it took him under two minutes to find the shirt he wanted to wear to the big-record-label Christmas party, realize it needed to be washed, come up with a second choice, find the second choice, and put that on. He stumbled wearily back down (it would be fine, he hadn't slept well but he could nap in the car) to discover Tad...in the kitchen.
"I told you not to look," said Stephen miserably from the entryway.
On the far side of the pile of pizza boxes and takeout containers, Tad was checking out the empty cabinet under the sink. "I take it you haven't gotten a chance to hire a housekeeper?"
Stephen shook his head.
"It's okay! Don't be embarrassed," said Tad, getting to his feet. "You haven't been living on takeout this whole time, have you?"
"Charlene brought me groceries right after I moved in." By this point, they had all either been eaten, or started to smell funny.
Tad opened one of the cupboards, wrinkled his nose as the smell hit, and closed it in a hurry. "Let me show you how to get those delivered," he said. "And I'll pick you up some trash bags while you're at the party. When's garbage day in this neighborhood?"
Was Stephen supposed to know that?
"Would you, ah, like a little help figuring this out?" added Tad.
"Yes!" cried Stephen. "Yes, please, I don't know how any of this works! Consuela used to handle it all, but Papa won't let me hire her, not even super-part-time. And I don't know how to get anyone else!"
"Hey, shh, it's okay. Come here, sit down." Tad tried to clear a stack of pizza boxes off of one of the kitchen chairs, and looked for a couple of dubious seconds at the seat underneath. "Okay, never mind, let's go out there and sit down."
The living room was in mostly-good shape. One of the couch cushions was visibly upside-down because Stephen had flipped it over after spilling Pepsi all over it, but other than that? Everything was fine. Tad took one chair, Stephen took another, and his new manager made absolutely no move to touch him along the way. It was incredibly refreshing. Stephen was only tearing up because he was so happy, honest.
"I have a suggestion, if you're interested," said Tad once they were settled in. "Finding a housekeeper is easy. Call your lawyer and tell him you need one by January, and he can help you work out the details. In the meantime, I'll run out and pick you up a full set of cleaning supplies — garbage bags definitely included — and go through the kitchen for you. And, um, anywhere else in the house you think needs a look. And maybe anywhere you don't, too. Just in case."
Stephen was simultaneously thrilled and suspicious. "Cleaning services are not in your contract. How much will you bill me?"
"All you have to do is reimburse the cost of the shopping." When Stephen was unconvinced, Tad added, "Look, my kid is almost your age. And if something happened to me so Geoffrey had to live on his own, I'd want him to have people looking out for him. So think of it as a karma investment."
"That would be...nice." Stephen hiccuped, pulling off his glasses to rub his eyes. "Really nice. Shouldn't I at least do something like add 'building manager' to your job title?"
"Deal," said Tad. They shook on it. "Speaking of management...there's nothing wrong with being fashionably late, but are you sure you want to go to this party? It's just a social thing, not a contract appearance or endorsement. And don't take this the wrong way, but you look dead on your feet."
"I can nap in the car," said Stephen. And, "Networking is very important."
"Well, sure, it's important," agreed Tad. "For people who are trying to make connections, and work their way up in the world."
His talent-and-building-manager raised his eyebrows. "Stephen, you do realize that you're the fifth richest teenager on the planet, right? Industry people come to events like these because they want to network with you."
And later still.
Stephen had refused to talk about whether he had chosen to avoid the regular Col-bert family festivities, or whether he had been quietly uninvited. Whichever it was, Charlene had opted to spend the day with him, and his sister Elizabeth had driven over from their father's house for the afternoon. They were singing around Stephen's new piano when Jon let himself in. Nothing religious — not even a secular-ish carol — but RENT's Seasons Of Love.
"Jon!" exclaimed Stephen by way of greeting. "Ms. Ruth! So glad you could make it."
"It's not like we had anything else to do today," said Jon. "Where do we put the food?"
"Dining room's right over there. Kitchen is through the door, if anything needs to be refrigerated. And presents go under the tree! You did bring presents, right? Because I got presents for you. Hanukkah's going on right now! I checked! Although I couldn't find anything about where to put Hanukkah presents, so those are under the tree too. I hope that's okay. I put a Star of David on top of it, just in case that helps."
Following him into the kitchen, Jon's aunt said under her breath, "Don't look now, but I think that boy might have some romantic interest in you."
"Mmm." Jon stuck the eggnog in the fridge, next to a carton of apple cider.
"You already knew? Don't get me wrong, I'm glad you're taking it so easily...the boys in my day!...but Jon, it's about time you let him down easy, isn't it?"
Jon sighed. Why did everyone assume he was playing with Stephen's feelings instead of returning them? "It really isn't."
His aunt took a moment to consider that. Then she said, "I'm getting the sense I should stop letting you two have sleepovers."
"He has like a hundred close relatives, and only two of them are here," said Jon flatly. "On Christmas. Don't you think he's got enough people shutting him out right now? Besides, I don't know if you've noticed, but even if you go for it...he kind of has his own house now."
"And you'll be back on the road in a month and a half anyway," sighed Aunt Ruth. "At least promise me you're being safe. Do you need me to pick up some condoms next time I'm out?"
"Not necessary!" exclaimed Jon, turning red. He'd gotten Steve to smuggle him a box. "Mom already gave me that lecture. It's taken care of! Talk to her when you get a chance, by the way. She's got a bunch of pictures of us that I think she's dying to show off to someone."
They were coming back into the piano room when Stephen yelped, "Stop!" Both Jon and his aunt froze. "Not you, Ms. Ruth, you can come in. Jon, stay right there."
He sprinted across the carpet, with both Charlene and Elizabeth Col-bert staring after him in obvious confusion. Something like understanding might have flashed across Charlene's face, but then Stephen was standing with Jon, panting, eyes sparkling, and how was Jon supposed to pay attention to anything else?
"Oh, look!" said Stephen too-loudly, pointing at the ceiling. "We're standing under the mistletoe."
Jon followed his gaze. So they were.
"Well!" Stephen flashed him a genial grin. "This is awkward."
It sure was. But Stephen's relatives, at least the non-homophobic ones, could hardly make things more awkward than Jon's did. "Could be worse," he said, and pulled Stephen's mouth down to his.
And on into January.
They had to pause midway through Tangled, when Stephen had a minor anxiety attack on the second verse of Mother Knows Best.
Jimmy put on some smooth jazz and held Stephen's hand while Stephen gibbered about how he didn't know what he was doing, how maybe it would be best for everyone if he moved back in with Papa and stop trying to play grown-up. He drew the line at working with Ned again — and Papa had stopped pushing him toward that particular nightmare — but every time they talked Papa reminded him that he was supporting about half of his immediate family, and what if he forgot to make a payment? What if he slept in and missed a call time because Papa wasn't there to wake him up? What if he made terrible choices and lost all his income and became one of those child stars who files for bankruptcy in their twenties and had to go work in fast food for a living?
"Stephen, you shouldn't have to worry about any of this," said Jimmy soothingly. "You pay other people to worry about it for you, remember? That's what money's for. And now you've even got a person who makes investments with that money, so you'll never run out."
This was a solid point. Stephen started to calm down. "You're a good friend, Jimmy Fallon."
"You're a good person to be friends with, Stephen Col-bert."
Stephen squeezed his hand. Who cared if most of his brothers were either giving him the cold shoulder or outright telling him not to be so reckless? BFFs were clearly superior to brothers anyway. On top of never taking your parents' side against you, BFFs never put gum in your hair.
"...But I'm a terrible friend."
"I am!" exclaimed Jimmy. "A good friend would have noticed there was something wrong, instead of letting you go through...that...on your own, for months. A good friend wouldn't get shy about dancing with you in public just because there's a whole Internet subculture based on misinterpreting things like that!"
He pulled out his half of their BFF necklace, hand taut around the charm.
"I'm a lousy excuse for a friend. I — I don't deserve to wear this."
Stephen sat up straight and tried to push it back into Jimmy's shirt. "Stop that! Stop it right now. Nobody else noticed either!"
(Except Papa, and he still didn't understand how bad Ned had gotten. At least, that was how Stephen chose to interpret "Ned would never do something like that...unprovoked." Because the only other way to hear it was that Papa thought Stephen had invited everything Ned had done to him. And Papa couldn't possibly.)
"So nobody deserves this pendant," translated Jimmy, trying to yank it away —
With a tiny metallic snap, the chain broke.
Jimmy stared at the strings of golden links hanging in pieces over his fist. Stephen stared at the red marks it had left on Jimmy's neck.
"I didn't mean it," said Jimmy faintly. "We can get another chain —"
"No," said Stephen. "No, you know what? Let's forget about the pendants. Who wears BFF pendants at our age, anyway? What are we, twelve?"
"Stephen, I never —"
"Let's get BFF tattoos."
Jimmy looked blank as he took this in, then startled, then, slowly, thrilled. "Really?"
"Really!" They had very good fake IDs, and were excellent tippers. They could totally swing this. "As long as they're not tattoos of our faces. When I get old and decrepit, it's just gonna be depressing if I can see my handsome younger self staring back at me from your torso all the time."
Shout*For studio, on break.
They were chilling in the music room, Jimmy and Stephen and their significant others, taking a look at the prospective design to be inked into their arms. Jon wasn't sure if tattoos were technically allowed under their contracts, but what he had done with Stephen that morning in the shower was definitely not allowed, so he wasn't going to be the one to shut them down.
Besides, this looked legitimately classy. If Stephen had tried to let his gaudier instincts run wild, Jimmy must have reined them in. A musical staff with a couple of flourishes, designed to start on Jimmy's right arm and finish on Stephen's left, bearing the first few measures of....
"What's the song?" asked Tina. "No, wait, don't tell me, just play it. I want to hear that it sounds nice, and isn't the musical equivalent of the Chinese character for half-off sushi."
Stephen set the printout against the piano's music stand, and held it in place while Jimmy played.
"Oh, hey, it's the friendship theme from The Fox and the Hound," realized Jon. "That's seriously cute."
"I think I saw a vid of that with you guys once," added Tina.
Jimmy sucked in a breath and yanked his hands away from the keys.
"A friendly vid, right?" said Stephen hopefully. "Because it's a friendly song."
"I...um, I don't remember," stammered Tina. "Probably? It was a while ago. Sorry!"
"There's probably fanfiction where we get matching tattoos and then bang, too," said Jimmy darkly. "Or vice versa."
Stephen fidgeted. "Is that a problem? Because there's fanfiction of us doing everything and then banging. ...Or so I hear."
Jon put a hand on Stephen's arm. He didn't want to hear about Shout*For fanfiction (even though he understood that he was getting a better shake in it these days, no longer the go-to antagonist who stood angrily between Stephen and Jimmy's true love, but the go-to snarky yenta who brought them together). And he didn't want an idea that clearly meant a lot to Jimmy and Stephen derailed by the fear of what the Internet would think. And he didn't want to keep sitting back and shutting up through this whole mess any more. "Would it be easier if we just came out?"
"It would take the pressure off," added Jon, feeling compelled to fill the quiet with something, and not having an instrument of his own handy. "They can't keep believing management is hiding your big gay relationship if we start being open about our big gay relationship, right?"
"Whoa there, Jon, hold on," said Tina. "That's a big deal — all kinds of risks — you don't have to do that just for us!"
"Not a lot of risks from where I'm standing," said Jon. "Everyone who's important in my life knows by now. Except my brother, and that's mostly because I haven't gotten around to telling him yet. Stephen's family won't be happy about it, but they can't punish him for it — they can't do anything to him except be mad at him —" Which could be a pretty big deal all by itself. Jon caressed Stephen's back, trying to convey that he got that. "— and I know that sucks, but they're doing it plenty already, so why not go all in?"
"They'll dissolve the band," said Jimmy. "You realize that, right? Nobody's ever come out while they were a Disney teen star. Rachel Maddow, Anderson Cooper, they held off on it for a reason."
"We can do other things," protested Jon. "Start our own band. Either of you could do Broadway! Stephen's a teenage actor who can work adult hours — that's gold, anyone who doesn't want to settle for casting a twenty-year-old in a high schooler's role will be jumping at the bit for him. Hell, we can call up Rachel and Anderson, they'll probably be happy to help us out — especially Rachel, if her former TV little brother is the one asking."
"Jon, stop!" exclaimed Stephen. "Even if we could maybe cope on our own, we definitely can't risk losing the band now. Olivia has to tour with us! What if we bail on her and she has a relapse?"
That took some of the wind out of Jon's sails. Stephen was right. They couldn't hang Olivia out to dry.
Leaning against Jon's side, Stephen added, "Maybe...after the tour?"
Jon caught his breath.
"You know, if you really want maximum impact for this," added Tina, "you could pick the venue with the biggest turnout and come out on stage."
"This is an insane idea," said Olivia. "You get that, right?"
"Of course we do," scoffed Stephen, fiddling with the sound system. "Totally outrageous. We probably won't even do it. That's no excuse not to rehearse."
He had just finished refurbishing one of the house's unnecessary extra bedrooms into a quality dance studio. Mirrors down the wall, padded mats under their feet, the best speaker system money could buy. It still had a touch of that new-paint smell.
"Just tell us if the moves suck," said Jon, who was stretching on the mat, over where they had put down the standard masking-tape rectangles to help them dance in place. "And keep in mind that I'm trying to learn these on top of remembering the real moves for our normal rehearsals, so if I do the wrong thing, try to ignore it."
"Don't listen to him," said Stephen. "He's learning my brilliant choreography just fine." (And by "my brilliant choreography" he meant "the way I modified our dance coach's choreography so that Jon and I end up facing each other.") "Okay, the track's all queued up — give us a minute to get in position, then hit play."
Still at Stephen's, on to February.
Jimmy was trying to figure out how to operate an intimidatingly artsy bong based on YouTube videos when a car that was hopefully Steve's pulled up outside. Sure enough, a minute later Stephen ushered Steve into the lounge, showing off the new notes inked along his arm.
"Well, come on, let me see 'em together!" said Steve. Jimmy obligingly went over to line up his forearm with Stephen's. They had run out of family members and regular co-workers to wow with the design; maybe it was a good thing they hadn't found time to have Steve over recently.
"Jon wanted to get something too," Stephen informed him as they settled in. "We had to hold him back from making an impulse buy."
"Especially an impulse buy of the giant head of Bruce Springsteen," added Jimmy.
"I did not want a giant head!" protested Jon. "I wanted lyrics, thank you very much." And if the first Springsteen-lyric design in their portfolio also happened to feature a hot rod, a guitar, some roses climbing your bicep, and the Boss's signature over your shoulder blade, well, who was to say he wouldn't have liked it? He totally might have.
They lit up; they passed around the snacks; they shot the breeze.
Eventually Jon was mellow enough to admit that he was kind of nervous, now that his actual first trip out of the country (the tour's fifth stop was in Paris) loomed on the horizon. Steve said he'd be fine, as long as he was careful not to kiss any hot French guys "at least, not when Stephen's looking." Stephen, who had ended up half in Jon's lap at some point, threw a Dorito at Steve.
"Aw, c'mon, you owe him a little adventure," laughed Steve. "Jon's probably never even made out with anyone but you, amirite? While you got to have your first kiss with some exotic nameless European hottie."
"I did not!" exclaimed Stephen. "I —"
He cut himself off mid-word, flushed, and hid his face against Jon's leg.
Uh-oh. Jon put down the bong and petted Stephen's hair. "He means real kisses, babe, not...stage kisses, for example." Or forced kisses...although Vancouver had been after Venice, so Stephen couldn't be thinking about Ned...right?
"I know. Shut up," said Stephen, muffled.
"Ooh, I think Mr. Purity's embarrassed," cooed Steve.
"Hey, lay off him." Jon looked to Jimmy for backup...and discovered that his friend's face was bright red. "Uh, Jimmy? You okay?"
"Just peachy," muttered Jimmy, averting his gaze.
"Oh my god," said Jon, as it clicked. "Was it you?"
"It barely even counts," said Stephen stubbornly. "It was just once. And Jimmy didn't like it."
"And the Internet can never, ever know!" added Jimmy. "Obviously it didn't go anywhere, and it's not that I regret — you know, letting him try — but you have to understand...I live in terror of a certain online subculture picking this up." (Steve and Jon both swore in the name of whatever they could think of that Stimmy fandom would not hear about it from them.) "And, just for the record? My first kiss was Rachel Dratch."
That wasn't a name Jon had heard before. Just when you thought you knew a guy, he pulled out a secret past ex. "You've never even mentioned her."
Jimmy relaxed against the couch. "Yeah, well, ours was an intense but brief romance. She had just done a spot for Super Gymnast Barbie; I was on my way to rep the Hot Wheels Shark Park. We met backstage, and the chemistry couldn't be denied."
Meanwhile, at Olivia's.
"I think so," said Olivia, flat on her back on the bed with her shirt and bra somewhere on the floor. Kristen was straddling her hips with one hand clutching a fistful of her hair. "It's not like I've done this before, you know?"
Between Kristen's school nights and Olivia's red-eye flight, it was the last night they were going to get together before Olivia disappeared to distant lands (starting with Tampa). And by god, she was going to make it count.
"But what if I hurt you?" asked Kristen, babydoll lips in an uncertain pout. "I mean for real. Shouldn't we have a safeword or something?"
"Can't my safeword just be 'stop'?"
"Oh," said Kristen. "I guess that makes sense."
Then she was pulling on Olivia's hair with one hand and teasing her through her jeans with the other, and whoa, Olivia wouldn't have said stop if you'd put a gun to her head. She came in record time, twisting on Kristen's fingers, catching her breath every time Kristen whispered something deliciously lurid in her ear.
They retreated onto the balcony afterward, sweaty and heavy-limbed and glad to be out in the cool night air. Olivia's grandparents' place wasn't on the waterfront, but it was on a nice steep slope with a view of Hollywood proper in the distance; even from here, you could see its golden glow rising up over the skyline.
"Look at that city," sighed Olivia, sitting back on the wicker-and-waterproof-cushion patio loveseat and putting her feet up.
Kristen snuggled in on the seat next to her, head resting on her shoulder, looking straight up. "Forget the city! Look at those stars."
"Yeah." Olivia twirled her fingers in Kristen's curls and thought about saying how they would always be looking at the same stars, no matter where she was. Except that wouldn't work, because they were playing a couple of venues in Sydney and Perth. Instead, all she said was, "Yeah, I will."